This year the education of horology took a huge leap forward as the Birmingham School of Jewellery launched the first course for watchmaking that is recognised at degree level. Course leader Jeremy Robbins deserves much of the credit.
There’s a sweetness to the story here because Jeremy studied at the School of Jewellery “20-something” years ago before going on to work for specialist clock and watch manufacturers. He was seduced back into education after he became involved in the examination process of the British Horological Institute.
Now, after a slew of scrutineers and a rigorous approval process he has created the first BA programme. His stated aim is to recruit in the region of 15 students a year. He says he is well on course to do that with interest high from individuals of all ages and backgrounds seeking to move into horology.
But how hard is it to teach horology in the degree context? “The subject is a huge one, and we can only really scratch the surface, highlighting areas that students may then wish to pursue to develop their specialisms once they have gained reasonably advanced clock or watchmaking skills.”
He says the degree equips students with transferable skills such as developing communication though a variety of mediums and situations, as well as honing critical evaluative and reflective techniques to enhance their learning process.
Their practical work is reinforced by core research and design skills, creating a strong body of work as evidence
of their achievements.
Of course there’s plenty of paperwork to wade through on the way, but fortunately he says his greatest virtue is patience.
“You need it when dealing with fiddly things and people. But also some things in life are worth waiting for, or working towards.”
We’re glad he worked towards – and achieved – this. But he acknowledges there is a long road ahead. “Designing and delivering an effective course does not happen overnight, and my colleague Jon Parker and I have been constantly re-evaluating what and how we deliver the content. Each year will see subtle improvements as we respond to the needs of the different student cohorts, but also to guidance from industry as to what they want modern watch and clockmakers to be capable of doing. I would be very happy to hear from individuals and organisations keen to support the provision of horological education.”
So if the future of horology is as important to you as it is to Jeremy, then do get in touch.
Birmingham School of Jewellery horology course leader Jeremy Hobbins was an Innovator in the WatchPro Hot 100 2013 in association with The Company of Master Jewellers. To read a digital version of the book in full online, click here.